Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Value of a Kindness: The Smile Shop

The Smile Shop, by Satoshi Kitamura, (Apr. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632550

Ages 4-8

A boy has saved his pocket money and explores his local market, enjoying a feast for the senses as he decides how to spend his money. But an accident causes him to lose most of his money, and the boy is distraught. When he spies a shop called the Smile Shop, his heart lifts: surely a smile can’t be terribly expensive, and that’s what he really needs right now! The story of a kindhearted shopkeeper and a little boy, The Smile Shop is a touching story of connection and empathy, and shows readers that there are some things no one can put a price on, like kindness. Satoshi Kitamura’s artwork, created with pen, ink, watercolor, and gouache, creates a softly colorful world where readers can explore with the boy in the story. Spare text allows the illustrations to tell the story through actions and facial expressions, with words filling in the details. A wonderful story that kids will return to again and again.

The Smile Shop has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Abracadabra, katakurico! What’s in the Hat?

Hat Tricks, by Satoshi Kitamura, (March 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9781682631508

Ages 2-6

Meet Hattie, the magician! She’s going to perform a wonderful magic show, and you get the front seat! With every spread, readers guess what’s in Hattie’s magic hat! Mattie pops out first, and with each spread and the magic words, abracadara, katakurico… a surprise awaits! But we get hints peeking out from the hat, so readers can take a guess at who’s next to pop out of the hat. The shenanigans get progressively sillier, heading toward a grand finale that everyone will love.

I LOVE this book. It’s meant to be read out loud, and to a group! Satoshi Kitamura’s comic book-type artwork is colorful, with bold outlines and expressive faces. This book would work very well with some flannels, or small stuffed animals, too: just pull ’em out of a hat and watch the kids cheer. The movement in the book takes up the whole spread, with hilarious energy and action that will make kids squeal and giggle.

Originally published in the UK in 2019, I’m very happy to welcome Hat Tricks to our shores and hope Satoshi Kitamura gives us some more interactive books to read with toddlers and preschoolers.

Hat Tricks has a starred review from Kirkus. There is a free, downloadable activity sheet available at the publisher’s website.